Apr. 9, 1999

To Be Of Use

by Marge Piercy

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: April 9, 1999

Poem: "To Be of Use," by Marge Piercy, from The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with Jewish Theme (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).

Today is the day when school children across the country compete in state-level GEOGRAPHY BEES. A winner will be chosen from each state and they will go to the national competition next month.

It's the birthday of computer pioneer J. PRESPER ECKERT, in Philadelphia, 1919. In February 1946, at the University of Philadelphia, he demonstrated for the first time a machine called the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer — nicknamed ENIAC — and the computer era was underway.

It's J. WILLIAM FULBRIGHT's birthday, born in Sumner, Missouri, 1905, but who served for 30 years as U.S. senator from Arkansas. He was a Rhodes scholar and a lawyer, and came to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1942, and the Senate in 1945. Right after WWII, as a way to improve relationships with old enemies, he sponsored the Fulbright Act, which allocated money for international student and teacher exchanges.

The CIVIL WAR ENDED on this day in 1865 at 1:30 in the afternoon when General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, rode to the house of Wilmer McLean at the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, and met General Ulysses S. Grant, commander-in-chief of the Union Army.

The FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY was established on this day in 1833. The people of Peterborough, New Hampshire decided to set aside a portion of the state bank tax to use for the purchase of books. Over the next couple decades small libraries that lent books out for free starting popping up in little towns across New England.

It was on this day in 1770 that Captain James Cook landed at BOTANY BAY, just south of Sydney, Australia — the second European to set foot on the continent after the Dutch briefly made landfall 130 years earlier. Botany Bay is a small inlet, not quite five miles wide. It was named by Joseph Banks, the botanist with Cook's expedition, and named Botany Bay because of the huge variety of flowering plants there.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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